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18 Mar 2008 11:01
Imtiaz Patel’s appointment as the next chief executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC) is “not a done deal” according to SuperSport, his current employer.
“Nothing has been formalised yet,” SuperSport spokesperson Guy Hawthorne said Tuesday.
“It’s a personal issue for Imtiaz but it is something the Multichoice board will get involved in. They won’t want to lose a man of his calibre.”
Multichoice is the parent company of SuperSport.
Patel was not at his desk on Tuesday and could not immediately be contacted on his cellphone.
Patel (43) has been chief executive of SuperSport since 2005 and if he takes up the ICC job he will bring wide experience of the high-finance world of television sports coverage after being involved in some of the biggest deals in South African history.
The ICC announced from their Dubai headquarters on Monday that Patel was the preferred candidate to take over from Australian Malcolm Speed at the end of June.
Patel joined SuperSport in 2000 after a stint as director of professional cricket with the United Cricket Board of South Africa.
He was thought to be the logical successor to Ali Bacher as chief executive but moved to the television company when he felt his path to the top job was being blocked.
Gerald Majola subsequently was appointed to head South African cricket.
Under Patel’s leadership, SuperSport, a subscription channel, have changed the sporting landscape in South Africa.
The company holds the rights to virtually all major sporting events in the country.
In June 2007, SuperSport acquired the rights to local soccer for R1,6-billion ($200-million) over five years, wresting them from the national South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) free-to-air station
The deal caused outrage among soccer fans and was criticised in Parliament, although the row was resolved when the SABC were allowed to screen 143 matches a year.
In February, SuperSport tied up the rights to local rugby matches until 2015.
Patel, a former school teacher and first-league cricketer, has hands-on experience of administration in major sports through SuperSport’s ownership of a professional soccer club and financial stakes in two professional rugby franchises and a cricket franchise.
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